Scripture and Worship Discussion

Sunday, January 23, 2023
 

Scripture: Numbers 20:1-13 (NLT)


In the first month of the year, the whole community of Israel arrived in the wilderness of Zin and camped at Kadesh. While they were there, Miriam died and was buried.


There was no water for the people to drink at that place, so they rebelled against Moses and Aaron. The people blamed Moses and said, “If only we had died in the Lord’s presence with our brothers! Why have you brought the congregation of the Lord’s people into this wilderness to die, along with all our livestock? Why did you make us leave Egypt and bring us here to this terrible place? This land has no grain, no figs, no grapes, no pomegranates, and no water to drink!”


Moses and Aaron turned away from the people and went to the entrance of the Tabernacle, where they fell face down on the ground. Then the glorious presence of the Lord appeared to them, and the Lord said to Moses, “You and Aaron must take the staff and assemble the entire community. As the people watch, speak to the rock over there, and it will pour out its water. You will provide enough water from the rock to satisfy the whole community and their livestock.”


So Moses did as he was told. He took the staff from the place where it was kept before the Lord. Then he and Aaron summoned the people to come and gather at the rock. “Listen, you rebels!” he shouted. “Must we bring you water from this rock?” Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with the staff, and water gushed out. So the entire community and their livestock drank their fill.


But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!” This place was known as the waters of Meribah (which means “arguing”) because there the people of Israel argued with the Lord, and there he demonstrated his holiness among them.


Discussion Questions:

  1. Brad had two opening illustrations about social erosion. One from the World Economic Forum (https://www.weforum.org/reports/global-risks-report-2022) and the other from a column by David Brooks (https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/13/opinion/america-falling-apart.html). Do you agree with this assessment?
  2. He claim the reasons for our rage are things like our sense of loss, sudden, rapid change, diverse opinions that don't agree with our own. Are there others?
  3. Take time to reflect and pray. Is it possible that your rage is actually a reflection of how you are hurt? Perhaps watch the opening Video again. Reflect on how Moses was hurting before he lashed out in anger.
  4. Brad suggests that our anger is part of a grieving process and that we mustn't get stuck in anger but continue the grieving process to resolution. What are you grieving? How can you move past the anger/rage toward resolution?
  5. In his "denouement" Brad acknowledges the power found in rage and suggests one way through the grieving process is to rage for the right things as Jesus did. Rage for the justice of God, rage for God's peace. What are you willing to rage for in lieu "going gently into that good night"?


Sunday, January 9, 2022

Scripture: Mark 6:30-34, 53-56 (NIV)


The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.


When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there. As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus. They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.


Discussion Questions:

  1. Tana defines self-care as “the things we do to protect our well-being and happiness, especially during periods of stress.” What do you think of when you hear the word self-care? Why? 

  2. Tania talks about balance in the world and ourselves. What places do you see in the world and yourself that feel a bit out of balance to you?

  3. She mentions the Our Bible app, which can be found at this link: https://www.ourbibleapp.com/. What is your go-to translation of the Bible? Why? Are you ready to explore something new?

  4. Tania says, “We know about what it is to be in it for the long haul. We know what it is like to live in a world where evil seems to be gathering momentum and nipping at our heels. We know that the needs of those around us are not ceasing and, in some ways, increasing. And it is right in the middle of this present chaos that Jesus says to you and me today, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” How does this apply to your life right now?

  5. She says that we can glean from this story that in our situations, we need to ask Jesus to reveal to us what it is that we need a rest from. She also says we should ask trust Spirit-filled persons in our lives for guidance. Would this work for you? Why or why not? Who would you ask? Would you listen?

  6. Tania says, “If we are not careful, we can become our own worst enemy, and we will not get the rest we need,” and list lies the world wants us to believe will happen when we step away to rest. Do you tell yourself such things? Do you believe them? What do you think the Spirit of God is trying to tell you about them? 

  7. As you pray, ponder, and invite others into discernment with you, what initially comes to mind that you think you Jesus might be asking you to take a rest from? Will you do it?




SUNDAY, JANUARY 2, 2022


Scripture: Romans 8:18-27 (NRSV)


I consider that the suffering of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope, we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.


Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.


Discussion Questions:

  1. As 2022 starts, what is something you are hoping for?
  2. In verse 18 Paul says that it is an "absolute certainty" (this is a more accurate translation of the word "consider") that the present sufferings are not comparable to the promised glory to come. Do you believe this? Is it sometimes a struggle to believe this? How do you hold on to this promise in the hard times?
  3. Brad says that verses 24 and 25 describe hope as an intangible (it cannot be seen). How do you hold onto hope for something you cannot see? For instance, many of us thought the pandemic would be pass by now, but it is still with us and we cannot yet see its end. How do you hold onto hope when you can't see the end? 
  4. Brad (using the story of Pandora's box) reminds us that hope is a gift from God. Have you ever prayed for God to help restore your sense of hope?
  5. The end of Romans 8 says that "nothing can separate us from the love of God found in Jesus Christ." Does hearing this give you a sense of hope?
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 26, 2021

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5: 16-21 (The Inclusive Bible)

And so from now on, we don’t look on anyone in terms of mere human judgment. Even if we did once regard Christ in these terms, that is not how we know Christ now. And for anyone who is in Christ, there is a new creation. The old order has passed away; now everything is new!  All of this is from God who ransomed us through Christ– and made us ministers of that reconciliation. This means that through Christ, the world was fully reconciled again to God, who didn’t hold our transgressions against us, but instead entrusted us with this message of reconciliation. This makes us Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making the appeal directly through us. Therefore we implore you in Christ’s name: be reconciled to God. For our sake, God made the one who is without sin to be sin, so that this means we might become the very holiness of God.

  1. Have you had occasions like a birth of a child or a marriage that didn’t seem real at first? What makes these occasions so momentous?
  2. LuAnne asks, “Was part of your Christmas… back ordered, and still not delivered? Is it all just a little unreal? Perhaps you’re glad it’s over after all of the buildup. Or maybe you’re let down a bit because it wasn’t what you hoped it would be. Maybe you can’t believe how wonderful it was and it all still seems like a happy dream. Or perhaps you threw caution to the wind in the spirit of the holidays and now worry that you might have been unwise.” Which of the above sentences best describes how you feel about Christmas today, now that the 25th is over? Or is there another, better, description?
  3. LuAnne asks, “How could our world, our jobs, our neighborhoods, our daily lives be different if we truly lived each day with a commitment to becoming new creations in Christ, focused on the reconciliation of the world, and empowered with the most amazing story- the greatest story ever told?” What do you imagine could be different if each Christian lived as a “new creation in Christ?”
  4. What next step is God calling you to take to further your journey of faith this next year?


SUNDAY, DECEMBER 19. 2021
Scripture: Luke 1:39-55 (The Inclusive Bible)


Within a few days, Mary set out and hurried to the hill country to a town of Judah, where she entered Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. As soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 


In a loud voice, she exclaimed, “ Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why am I so favored, that the mother of the Messiah should come to me? The moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who believed that what our God said to her would be accomplished!”

What does Elizabeth teach us? 


“My soul proclaims your greatness, O God, and my spirit rejoices in you, my Savior. 

For you have looked with favor upon your lowly servant, and from this day forward all generations will call me blessed. 

For you, the Almighty, have done great things for me, and holy is your Name. 

Transitions to an outward focus

Your mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear you.
You have shown strength with your arm; you have scattered the proud in their conceit; you have deposed the mighty from their thrones and raised the lowly to high places. 

You have filled the hungry with good things, while you have sent the rich away empty.


Discussion Questions: 

Typical to Rev. Tania's sermon style, she asks a lot of questions. :) For this week, here are the ones she proposed in the message for us to chew on this week.

  1. She talks about being adrift. In what places in your life do you feel adrift? How do you know and experience this?
  2. When was the last time you caught yourself singing a song? You know the kind that comes effortlessly from your spirit and just comes flowing forth without thought or awareness?
  3. Rev. Tania says that for Mary and Elizabeth context matters. It matters who we are with, the voices we listen to, what our brains see and experience; it all forms us. Are we nurturing our lives with the rich and powerful stories of our faith so that we can be shaped and formed into people for whom the Spirit can flow effortlessly from our being? Or, is this a growth area, and do we need to create spaces in our life where we can be nurtured and experience something different than what the hopeless world has to offer?
  4. In the message we hear that the power of sanctuary, like the kind Elizabeth provided for Mary matters. Where we go, who we are with when the world comes crashing down us, matters. When this happens to us all, it’s life, so it will; where do we find sanctuary? Who are the people who can deeply empathize with our situation but not let us dwell there beyond the time that is good for us? We see a world that has become an echo chamber of negativity and darkness. Who are the faith-filled people we can turn to who can fan the flames of God that every one of us has within us? Or, is it our turn to provide such a safe sanctuary for others? Elizabeth teaches us the transformative power of such safe sanctuary places.  
  5. Rev. Tania says that we learn from Mary about a gritty, in the trenches but lift your arms faithfulness in times of hardship. Mary reminds us that our lives will not be absent from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune in life. She shows us with courage and fierce boldness what it means to testify to God’s faithfulness with us in it all. And Mary doesn’t end there. She pivots to a God-sized dream that leaves no one person behind. What do you believe is the song God is placing (or further developing) in your heart that is a refrain of Elizabeth and Mary's?


SUNDAY, DECEMBER 12. 2021

Scripture: Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV)

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Discussion Questions:
  1. Are you feeling anxious these days? What are some of the causes of your anxiety?
  2. The peace in Philippians 4:7 is described as a peace of the soul and comes from a root word in Greek that means to bind things together. this means that true peace is found in things that rebuild broken souls and a broken world. What are some of the things you can go to bind together brokenness in your life; in our world? 
  3. Brad says we live in an age that has discarded and undervalues gentleness. Do you agree or disagree? Jesus ascribes gentleness as one of his key attributes. How do we reclaim gentleness as a value in our society?
  4. Brad suggests anxiety is best addressed by a) shifting our focus and b) getting busy doing God's work. In youR experience does this work? How do you deal with anxiety?
  5. What are some of the things causing you to rejoice right now?